Unravelling genetic variation underlying de novo-synthesis of bovine milk fatty acids
T. M. Knutsen, H. G. Olsen, V. Tafintseva, M. Svendsen, A. Kohler, M. P. Kent, S. Lien
The relative abundance of specific fatty acids in milk can be important for consumer health and manufacturing properties of dairy products. Understanding of genes controlling milk fat synthesis may contribute to the development of dairy products with high quality and nutritional value. This study aims to identify key genes and genetic variants affecting de novo synthesis of the short- and medium-chained fatty acids C4:0 to C14:0. A genome-wide association study using 609,361 SNP markers and 1,811 animals was performed to detect genomic regions affecting fatty acid levels. These regions were further refined using sequencing data to impute millions of additional genetic variants. Results suggest associations of PAEP with the content of C4:0, AACS with the content of fatty acids C4:0-C6:0, NCOA6 or ACSS2 with the longer chain fatty acids C6:0-C14:0, and FASN mainly associated with content of C14:0. None of the top-ranking markers caused amino acid shifts but were mostly situated in putatively regulating regions and suggested a regulatory role of the QTLs. Sequencing mRNA from bovine milk confirmed the expression of all candidate genes which, combined with knowledge of their roles in fat biosynthesis, supports their potential role in de novo synthesis of bovine milk fatty acids.